Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias’ address at the 10th Ministerial Conference “Democracy and Resilience: Shared Goals” organized by The Community of Democracies in New York.
Mr. President of the General Assembly,
Dear Under Secretary- General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure and, indeed, a privilege to participate in today’s Conference.
My sincere appreciation goes to the Romanian Presidency and to my colleague Bogdan.
Romania has steered the wheel of the Community of Democracies with a steady hand, through challenging and demanding times.
This year marks twenty-one years, since the adoption of the Warsaw Declaration which gave birth to the Community of Democracies in 2000.
Over these years, we have reconfirmed our commitment to the cornerstone of our Community:
That is to respect and uphold core democratic principles, values and practices.
free and fair elections,
freedom of speech and expression,
equal access to education,
rule of law,
freedom of peaceful assembly,
political and social freedoms.
Democracy is a political system, but also a process which started before two and a half millennia.
It has known progress, but it has known setbacks.
Democracy requires resilience, as it is also very well reflected in this year’s Conference theme.
Progress should not be taken for granted.
We need to be alerted and to actively keep our defenses up.
We ought to deepen the dialogue on the challenges democracy faces.
We should also provide support for democratic consolidation in transitioning countries.
Resilience and alertness are the key message.
I could enumerate a number of challenges democracy faces.
It will however limit the dialogue and I should limit myself to mentioning only two which have been at the forefront of the international community discussions: challenges and fake news during the time of COVID-19, and the fate of women and girls, especially in Afghanistan.
Fighting off the pandemic requires States to take measures at many levels with a view to protect public health.
In doing so, transparency of action and adherence to the rules of a democratic State are of paramount importance.
Respect for human rights lies at their heart.
However, the battle against COVID-19 has been often rendered less effective by fake news.
This, due to a number of reasons ranging from ignorance to bad faith.
In dealing with sensitive and possibly damaging situations that fake news could produce, Democracies need to look for answers.
This, by focusing in their power of persuasion, through dialogue and the presentation of the scientific truth.
On another note, the emerging situation of women and girls in Afghanistan looks ominous.
Years of progress are on the verge of being overturned.
It is our duty to speak up in their defense.
We need to demand that their rights are fully respected.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As I mentioned earlier, democracy is a constantly developing endeavor.
It is up to us to work towards ensuring its consolidation throughout the globe.
I believe that the Community of Democracies has, is and will continue playing an important role in this respect.